Sharing accident photos 'illegal': UAE reminder after plane crash

Sharing accident photos 'illegal': UAE reminder after plane crash
2 min read
09 Aug, 2016
The General Civil Aviation Authority has warned that taking and sharing photos of accident sites can lead to serious penalties following a plane crash in Dubai airport last week.
The Emirates airline plane crash-landed at Dubai airport last week [AFP]

People taking and sharing photos of accident sites can receive serious penalties, the UAE's top aviation authority warned after a plane crash-landed in Dubai last week.

"GCAA warns all residence in the UAE to stop abusing social networks by publishing videos, news or pictures of aviation's accidents," the General Civil Aviation Authority posted on its official Twitter account.

"Sharing such practices is considered to be irresponsible and disrespectful to the victims, and is punishable under UAE law."

Last week, the Boeing 777 jet, flying from India, made an emergency landing just before 1 pm local time, sending black smoke billowing into the air and halting all traffic at the Middle East's busiest airport.

All 275 people on board the flight were evacuated safely and no injuries were reported among them.

However, one firefighter died as he responded to the fire onboard the plane after its crash-landing.

"I salute his ultimate sacrifice that kept many from harm's way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," GCAA director general Saif al-Suwaidi said at the time.

Cybercrime law

The aviation authorities came as a reminder of the country's cybercrime law as people posted images and videos of the plane on fire across social media and news channels.

According to the 2012 law, anyone found guilty of a cybercrime - which includes taking images of accident sites - could face up to life imprisonment and/or a fine varying between 50,000 Dirhams ($13,600) and three million Dirhams ($816,800) - and expatriates can expect to be deported.

Last month, the interior ministry cautioned that the circulation of such images was "unacceptable", as they can cause "psychological shock" to families of victims of the accidents.

The warning followed a fatal traffic accident in Ajman, as images of the crash site were later seen on social media.

In January, two men were detained for seven days after taking "selfies" outside a Dubai hotel while it was on fire.

However, the city's public prosecution decided to release the two young men after a thorough investigation into the photo posted on social media found no evidence of criminal intent.

If convicted, the young men would also have faced three years in jail and a fine of no less than 30,000 Dirhams ($8,000).